Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail ~ Part 17

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From our safe haven of a motel whose owner understood perfectly that wherever your thoughts go, energy flows....we ventured out to the chocolate brown Manitowoc River until we could finally dip our toes in the long awaited Lake Michigan. Following the coast north we arrived in Two Rivers where we asked a gentleman on the side of the road where the nearest supermarket was. Oddly, he was an Ice Age Trail volunteer and offered us the information that a free backpackers camp was recently created up the coast in Point Beach State Forest. Interestingly, the trail followed the beach for a few miles, but for most of this distance, there was no beach, and so we had to wade through the water barefoot anywhere from our ankles up to our thighs. With small clouds of mosquitoes on our Tails, we cruised smoothly into camp just after dusk. 

Awakening to fresh dew on our gear we walked several miles north to our first Great Lakes Lighthouse at Rawley Point. At Rahr School Forest, we experienced what seemed like the longest boardwalk of the trail over a boggy marsh filled with flowering Iris's, Nightshade, and Forget-Me-Nots. After road walking to Mishicot we meandered our way through crops to the East Twin River where a mama Wood Duck was teaching her five chicks to frantically run away from us. After getting water from a ball park filled with T-ballers, we came across three new Westbound thru hikers. One of the hikers was legally blind and had a German Shepherd to guide his way. Finally after multiple miles of country road walking, the sun was beginning to set and so we asked a family if we could possibly set up our tarp on their property for the night. Magic once again filled the air and we suddenly found ourselves having a wonderful evening chatting and watching satellite television in a game room/man's den. Life is certainly filled with wonderful surprises and wonderful people. 

Continuing on with our road walk to a rail to trail there were several fields being hayed where even the coastally inclined seagulls had a stake in the cutting. The temperatures were also much cooler as we approached Kewaunee along the Great Lakes. Purple Martins sitting next to a swallow showed us that they were about three times bigger and were renting those nice pole homes high in the sky in front of someone's house. With darkness approaching, we said hello to a couple that had passed by us earlier by car and to whom we had waved to. They came out to have a drink and enjoy the wonderful sunset that was approaching when we began talking and explaining our quest. We then were invited to join their gathering and ended up camping in the back lawn of their hundred acre property. 

In Algoma, the old fishermen and farmers were gathering in the local coffee shop to gossip over the going ons of life. Both white pelicans and terns paraded along the coastline in search of schooling fish. On the Ahnapee State Rail to Trail, it was as if all the major animal players of our trip crossed our paths as if to say goodbye on our last full marathon day of hiking. Turkeys, sandhill cranes, a great blue heron, all relayed their farewells to the both of us. White tailed deer were extremely abundant with two young fawns eyeing us carefully from the safety of being in a swamp. Oddly, a man in a lawnmower came putting down the trail yelling at his young escaping dogs to heal and come back home. Just a hundred feet later, the smallest of baby skunks rustled through the grass to get a good whiff of us. Finally arriving in Sturgeon Bay, we seemed to have been transported back into a long forgotten civilization where sirens roared and noises of all kinds blared. Tourists abound. But yet even amongst this synchronized chaos, a porcupine too managed to say goodbye to us and that the Ice Age Trail would surely remember our presence. 

In the morning we baptized ourselves within Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan to fully immerse ourselves within the Midwest Experience. Amazingly, the water and air were warm and so were our spirits. We had finally arrived to the end of our intention after 1121.2 miles of zig-zaging through the maze of Wisconsin beneath a Lookout Tower where we could easily see the future. Our Ice Age is finally over from the warmth of our soles/souls.Wisconsin will now walk through us wherever we may go.

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